Update: 6/14/2021, 10:23AM

State Police have announced the charges on the operator who drove a stolen ambulance into Irondequoit Bay yesterday.

Vanessa Armstead, age 32, from Buffalo was arrested for:

  • Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, 2nd Degree
  • Criminal Trespass 3rd Degree
  • 2 counts of Criminal Mischief 2nd Degree.

State Police are working with the Utica Police Department and the investigation is continuing. The Utica Police will be filing individual charges as well:

  • NYSPL 140.20, Burglary in the third degree, a class D Felony
  • NYSPL 155.40, Grand larceny in the second degree, a class C Felony.
The investigation is continuing and more charges may be forthcoming.

Sunday morning was quite the debacle for employees of Kunkel Ambulance in Utica, who according to WUTR, had one of their ambulances stolen directly from their garage on Catherine Street. The driver, who has yet to be identified, led Police on a high speed chase all the way out to the Rochester, New York area.

State Police Dispatchers say around 10:42AM, State Police on the Thruway made their first attempt stop ambulance on the highway. The driver refused to comply with the demand and pull over. They ended that attempt.

For a second time, Troopers located the stolen ambulance on I-490 westbound in Rochester and tried to pull the driver over as they exited I-490 at Culver Road, they said. That attempt was also ended.

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The driver went down Seneca Road in Irondequoit, a suburb of Rochester, and crashed through a gate into the Irondequoit Bay from the boat launch. State Police say the operator of the ambulance was able to swim to a boat on the nearby bay and was then taken into custody by police. She was the only one on the ambulance.

Kunkel gave us the following statement:

On Sunday morning, June 13, an ambulance was stolen from inside the ambulance bay within the Kunkel Ambulance station in Utica while the vehicle was undergoing cleaning after shift. Kunkel notified the authorities promptly and coordinated with law enforcement in tracking the vehicle through GPS until it stopped near Rochester. No Kunkel Ambulance employees were in the vehicle when it was taken. Kunkel Ambulance is cooperating with authorities.

Since the crash occurred, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Dive Team helped to retrieve the submerged ambulance, officials say. The operator was given medical attention at the scene by Irondequoit Ambulance and charges are pending.


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